Reduce Public Speaking Anxiety by Accepting it

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Have you ever felt your heart beating faster right before giving a speech or presentation?

It’s common, especially when there is a lot of anticipation and buildup. For example, when you are scheduled to speak at 10:15 AM and there is a roster of speakers before you at 9:30, 9:45, 10:00…

This buildup is what kills us. Our brain has time to think and worry and anticipate everything that might go wrong and how everyone will be laughing at us and declare us a big loser forever and ever.

Ironically, many people often perform better when they don’t have a buildup right before.

When we are put on the spot to say something unexpectedly, we speak more spontaneously and naturally. We literally don’t have time to think, so we just speak and let the words come out.

Sometimes the buildup is unavoidable, it’s just the way the schedule or event has been setup.

In these situations, the last thing you should do is try to fight the high-pressure feeling.

Resisting pressure or tension just creates more of it.

In the worst case scenario you create a vicious cycle of nervousness and anxiety–> anxiety about having anxiety–> which leads to more anxiety.

Here’s what I recommend instead: just sit with the nervousness.

Embrace it and become very aware of everything that is happening in your body. Ignoring it or trying to fight it or sweep it under the rug is not going to help. It will just get worse.

By just accepting it in the moment as a “reality,” you will become more comfortable with it. Pay close attention to your heartbeat and shallow breathing. Recognize it and mentally accept it. Say to yourself “It’s ok, this can happen right now, it’s no big deal.”

Notice what thoughts are running through your mind: Any negative remarks about yourself? Any disempowering statements or questions like “How the hell am I going to do this”? Or “What will everyone think of me”?

Notice the negative feelings, accept them, and don’t fight them.

The negativity will dissipate or diminish on its own.

Once your mind has resolved to accept everything without judgment and stay alert to what is happening inside the body, very quickly this anxiety and nervousness will diminish.

It may not be eliminated 100% or even 90% (that comes with practice and exposure over time). But it will be much more manageable.

Justin Aquino